Catherine Bresner

All Laments Are Circles

you arrive at my door
you arrive at my door in a suit
you arrive at my door in a suit holding flowers
in your right hand
pink orange carnations
that you thrust in my face like a pompom
like a one-armed cheerleader, cheering me on


in your sleeves whole gardens
of chicanery [you arrive at my door]
what kind of man [wearing a suit]
are you/could you/can you
be? [holding flowers] for me? are they?


[you arrive] all I can see
are these flowers in my face
full of carnations gardenias
in various ghosts of white
you are a particular ghost at my doorstep
and somewhere in front of me your voice
is an interruption, your face is nowhere
your face/your voice/your face/your voice


you arrive at my door holding
a gardenia dead crow:
it’s hurt you say
no, it’s dead I say
can you fix it? you say
no, it’s dead I say
do you want it? you say


here, give it here I say


here in my hand a crow
all wet with rain
black /slick /quiet
dead now in my hands


hands being the mistake
hands being the plural
hands becoming unhinged
at the wrist, taking flight
across a night filled with moon
flinging birdlike shadows
all over the gorgeous grass


hands holding
hands handing over
the empty vase
[while outside
the crow’s caw
or the daisy’s slow decay]


—First published in Passages North


Interrogation of a Landscape

E says there is
a reason for everything
which is just a bad excuse
I am wanting to follow
but what is god if not an oily
stone & this feeling
paper ripping
in the gut

Here all the suicidal
bridges collapse
into one tight fist
in the city that I love
To the barge against
the harbor at 4 o’clock
I am sorry

It isn’t necessarily
a gesture to regret
a day & then another
to assume the position
of at least
one human

I hear some thirsty
talking on the radio
talk about N. Korea
talk about Russia
talk about my uterus

My inclination is to
join something or
not to join something
My inclination is to
watch a grouper fish
pass by the end of the line


—First published in Handsome


Catherine Bresner’s  poetry has appeared in The Offing, Heavy Feather Review, Gulf Coast, Poetry Northwest, Passages North, The Pinch, Handsome, and elsewhere. She has worked as the coordinating editor for The Seattle Review and as a publicity assistant for Wave Books. Currently, she is the managing editor for BOAAT Press and the associate production editor for Kirkus Reviews. You can find her work at

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